From realms on high

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Christmas_tree_at_nightJust seconds after the dismissal bell rang, I grabbed my coat and headed for Clinton Street downtown.

Ten minutes later – at most – I found myself in the B.F. Goodrich store to watch the electric train chug around the track set up in the window display.

Bored with that after a while, I’d then head for the Firestone store across the street to examine their Christmas displays. In warmer weather, I would spend half an hour looking at the fly rods.

Now it was Christmas and within days of the annual vacation. I had different wishes one year after another. By age 12, I had lost interest in trains. Now it was shotguns.

So by this time, I’d head north for the big hardware store close to the river bridge. I wouldn’t tarry at Firestone. I’d hasten to the big hardware store. I don’t recall that name.

This store had a huge display of rifles and shotguns. My passion in that department was a 20-gauge single-shot Winchester. Every late fall I had joined Dad and his friends to tromp through muddy fields east of Defiance. But without a gun, my role was to retrieve any pheasant or rabbit somebody had shot.

My dream was the 20-gauge and joining the hunt as a full-fledge member of the hunting party.

I don’t recall that Dad and I discussed my dream. Somehow, though, he knew my heart’s desire. What I do recall is shopping with him to buy Mom a Christmas gift. That found us in a furniture store on Clinton Street and buying a lazy Susan style coffee table.

I’m wondering now if most other people have a bunch of memories about this time of year. For me it’s not just the wishes for presents. It’s shopping for just the right tree, which Dad and I did together. It’s the caroling with other kids from church or the neighborhood.

The beautifully decorated tree that nearly reaches the ceiling in our living room went up the day after Thanksgiving. I didn’t have any big job with that, only carting in the boxed-up branches of the artificial tree and half dozen cartons of decorations.

Wife Toni got the lights and colorful bulbs on the branches. As always, an angel sits on top, fully in charge of whatever festivities lie ahead for the season.

One of the FM stations plays Christmas music through the holiday weeks . Tonight, I hope to remember to turn on the stereo. But before the 25th of the month, we’ll be celebrating son John’s birthday and that of Cynthia, his fiancĂ©.

I’m not sure why I seem to have more vivid memories of this time of year than any other. Despite my share of ups and downs during my 77 years, I still enjoy the season more than any other. It remains a very special time.

It makes exercising more fun. And I’m betting all those miles hiking means I’ll stay healthy to celebrate Christmas lots more years. That’s my hope anyway. The meals, of course, never fail to be great.

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